HERSHEY — The PIAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Hershey had quite a different look.
Not only did the runners face a humid day with temperatures in the mid-70s instead of a typical chilly November day, but the races were contested in time trials instead of just one race per class because of COVID-19 concerns.
Both factors helped keep the times from going low.
However, a pair of runners from Greencastle-Antrim came home with medals when all the racing was done. Junior Weber Long equaled his place from last year — third in Class 2A boys, while freshman Claire Paci captured fourth place in girls 3A.
The only other area runner in states was Chambersburg sophomore Camryn Kiser, who placed 29th in girls 3A. Her time of 20:19 was off her time of 19:07 from a year ago when she placed 14th, but that shows how difficult it was Saturday.
Trojan coach Chris Monheim said, “Cammie missed a medal by four places. She moved up well during her heat, but was a little out of position early and couldn’t make up enough ground.”
Greencastle coach Rich Secrest said, “Just about everybody ran slow today because of the conditions. It was brutally hot and felt like 85 degrees out there. The defending champion in 2A collapsed at around two miles and never finished. The heat made it challenging because of the time trials — runners who went out too fast did not finish well.”
Long ran 16:15 last year to take third and was third this year in 16:47. He placed behind winner Gary Martin of Archbishop Wood (16:12) and Jacob Hess of Lewisburg (16:37).
“When you walk away feeling like you didn’t run a good race and still take top three in the state, that’s OK,” Secrest said. “I just think Weber is not as good of a time trial runner as he is a racer. He does his best in head-to-head races.
“But I told him and his parents that I think he made jumps this year. He is much better, more fit and more confident than a year ago. And he’s just a junior.”
In girls 3A, Moon’s Mia Cochran defending her title by finishing in 18:28. She was followed by Caryn Rippey of Wilson (18:46), Margaret Carroll of Northeastern (19:01) and Paci (19:08).
“Claire ran an awesome race,” Secrest said. “She was paired with the girl from Wilson in her trial and she benefited from that. District 3 girls finished 2-3-4. She was the fastest freshman in all of the races, so to do that in her first year is really good.
“She’s like a little horse out there — she’s a strong runner and she has a great attitude.”